Brennan’s picks: The Only Good Indians

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones.

“Ricky, Lewis, Gabe and Cass, all members of the Blackfoot Tribe, childhood friends who we are introduced to as young men. It’s the final day of hunting season and the sun is on the decline. With elk nowhere to be found and the prospect of empty freezers heading into winter they decide to bend the rules. They head for the good country where only Elders are allowed to hunt. When they pop out of the truck it’s a miracle. The whole elk herd spread out below them. The fog of war descends and elk start falling. One of the elk that Lewis shoots is pregnant, she clings to life trying to protect her baby to no avail. What’s worse, before they can get out with their ill gotten gains they are busted by the Game warden and receive a 10 year hunting ban.

Fast forward 10 years. The group has drifted apart. Ricky and Lewis have left the Reserve while Gabe and Cass have stayed. Lewis was the first to go. Things just never seemed right after that fateful hunt. Now living off reserve with the woman he loves and a good job he’s put the shame of that day behind him. Until one day while fixing a light he sees a familiar elk in a familiar pose on his living room floor. By the time he gets to the bottom of the ladder she’s gone.

In the world that Jones has created in this novel the wasteful slaughter of the herd is a transgression that demands payment in blood and the elk herd are capable of collecting. The creature Jones imagines for the job is one of my all time favorite supernatural characters. Terrifying and righteous I found myself rooting for her a few times. In the end all 4 men will have to settle scores once and for all but they won’t be the only ones that get dragged along.”

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